Great Britain, Belgium, Mexico and Ukraine progress to 2024 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers12/11/2023 21:10
The Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Play-offs reached a thrilling conclusion as the final four spots in next year's Qualifiers were decided on Sunday
By Kevin Palmer
The 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Play-offs reached a thrilling conclusion as the final four spots in next year's Qualifiers were decided on Sunday, with Belgium, Great Britain, Mexico and Ukraine securing their progress.
After Brazil, Japan, Slovakia and Romania won their ties on Saturday, fans around the world were treated to some impressive performances and high tension as the tie between Austria and Mexico went down to the final set of doubles action.
GREAT BRITAIN WIN IN FRONT OF HUGE CROWD
London's Copper Box Arena was sold out for both days as Great Britain came through their Play-off tie against Sweden courtesy of singles wins from Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart.
With the tie level at 1-1 after a surprise defeat for British No. 2 Jodie Burrage against world No. 372 Kajsa Rinaldo Persson on Saturday, it was the same Swedish player back on court on Sunday as Persson tested Boulter in the opening match.
After Boulter won a tense opening set, she ran away with the second set to seal a 7-6(5) 6-1 win.
That gave Harriet Dart a chance to wrap up the tie and she delivered an impressive performance to beat Caijsa Hennemann 7-5 6-2 to the delight of the London audience.
"I'm a London girl so to be able to play in London is extraordinary, and to be able to have played with this team, it’s so awesome to play in front of such a good crowd," said Dart.
2 for 2 and a GB WINNNN 🥰✨💁🏼♀️🔥🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/lNDnIr11qb— Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter) November 12, 2023
DRAMATIC FINISH IN AUSTRIA
There was high drama in Schwechat as the tie between host nation Austria and a battling Mexico side went down to a decisive doubles match.
With the tie level after the first day, Mexico edged ahead as Fernanda Contreras Gomez beat Sinja Kraus 0-6 6-2 6-4 in the opening singles match on day two, with the one-sided nature of the first set helping Kraus to win more points in the match (78-75).
Mexico were a set away from victory when Giuliana Olmos drew level with Tamira Paszek, but the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist found a way to win the match and take the tie into a deciding doubles.
The tension could not have been more intense for Austria's Kraus and her partner Melanie Klaffner, as the final match went into a deciding set against the pairing of Contreras Gomez and Olmos.
Yet it was the Mexican duo who held their nerve to secure a 3-6 6-3 8-6 win.
UKRAINE MARCH ON
Ukraine played with great pride as they beat the Netherlands 3-1 in a tie played in Vilnius, Lithuania.
It was all to play for on day two after the singles matches were shared on Saturday, with world No. 27 Anhelina Kalinina highlighting her class to seal a 6-4 6-4 win against Arantxa Rus.
Rus (14) hit more winners in the match than Kalinina (10), but the higher-ranked player won the key points to send Ukraine on their way to victory.
The decisive point was then delivered by Dayana Yastremska, who beat Suzan Lamens 4-6 6-1 7-5 in a long match that was concluded after two hours and 26 minutes.
WICKMAYER LEADS THE BELGIAN CHARGE
Yanina Wickmayer was in inspired form for Belgium as she claimed the decisive win that carried her nation to a victory against Hungary in Charleroi.
The 2009 US Open semi-finalist has enjoyed a comeback year after winning three tournaments on the ITF World Tennis Tour, including two W100 titles.
She took that form into the Billie Jean King Cup as she backed up her win against Anna Bondar on Saturday with a battling 6-2 6-7(4) 6-1 win against Dalma Galfi.
That was enough to secure a victory for Belgium after Greet Minnen beat Bondar 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the opening match on Sunday.
"We have worked a lot on the mental aspect this year and I showed that today," as quoted by Nieuwsblad.
"Even though I knew highs and lows. Compared to yesterday, today I mainly wanted to find the fun on the track again."
2023 BILLIE JEAN KING CUP PLAY-OFF WINNERS